By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
May 20, 2015-When the United States Soccer Federation and Eastern New York State Adult Soccer Association were both founded in 1913, the majority of people playing soccer were men, many of whom had been born in foreign countries. So when the Long Island Soccer Football League (LISFL) kicked off play in 1948, it used both the American word “soccer” and the global name “football” in its name to describe the world’s most popular sport. LISFL’s start 67 years ago coincided with the end of World War II and many Americans moving to new developments in the suburbs, including most famously Levittown, Long Island.
By that time, kids were playing soccer in small but ever increasing numbers. The oldest youth soccer league in the United States, the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League (CJSL), was founded in 1933 and has youth teams in all five boroughs of New York City to this day. Longtime LISFL volunteers Joe Goldberg and Ian McDougall co-founded the Oceanside United Soccer Club in 1962 and it was the first youth soccer club in Nassau County. Other volunteers from the LISFL helped organize the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL), which kicked off play four years later in 1966, the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) was then founded in 1972 and the great youth soccer boom was on.
According to LISFL President Gus Xikis, his league has greatly benefited from the youth soccer explosion as approximately 60% of the men who are currently registered in the league grew up playing in the LIJSL, CJSL and the other youth leagues that make up Eastern New York. So the LISFL hosts a booth every March at the LIJSL Convention to encourage youth soccer players to graduate to the LISFL after they have aged out for youth soccer. The league also has a formidable presence on the web as www.lisfl.org gets close to a million hits per month along with the LISFL being popular on Facebook, Twitter and Flicker.
(LISFL action between New York West Indies in orange and New York Olympiacos in red and white. Photo courtesy of the LISFL.)
83 teams divided into men’s open divisions, Over-30, Over-40 and Over-50 divisions currently make up the LISFL, with teams coming from Suffolk, Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn. One of the biggest rivalries in local sports has AC Glen Cove and Forest Park, both in LISFL Division 1, playing a derby for supremacy in the City of Glen Cove as they have been doing since the 1960’s. AC Glen Cove is the LISFL club that has won the most trophies, nearly 100, followed by New York Irish Rovers and Lindenhurst, the oldest club in the league.
In the four years that Xikis has been President, the LISFL has grown by 30% and he was a driving force behind creating the LISFL Hall of Fame.
“We should have over 70 members inducted by our 70th anniversary in 2018,” he stated.
In another example how youth soccer plants the seeds for adult soccer, all four of the 2015 inductees––Tony Crescitelli, Mario Gentile, Bob Montgomery and Dominick Pedone––have longtime ties to both the LISFL and local youth soccer. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony takes place at the Plattduetsche Restaurant in Franklin Square on Thursday night, June 18, when the LISFL’s Annual General Meeting will also be held.
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Special Children. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.